Weis Reflects on Saturday's Win

When watching a tape of Saturday night's 14-10 victory over Georgia Tech, Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis would have liked to been watching his Irish blow out the Yellow Jackets rather than what really happened. However, Weis will be able to use the game footage as a tool to get his second-ranked Irish ready for Penn State this coming Saturday and beyond.

Weis and his staff begin working with the players today as the team gathered for meetings.

"No one is happier than me that I have this type of information to use today," Weis said with a hoarse voice at his press conference. "Would I have liked to win by a whole bunch of points and have an easy victory in? Absolutely. Let me not be a hypocrite. With that being said, these games all count as one. Everyone counts as one. No one is going to care two weeks from now what the score of the Georgia Tech game was. They're going to care for the next 48 hours. They're going to care for the stories on Monday, the stories on Tuesday, then it's going to be all about Penn State.

"From my standpoint, look at all the positives that I can take out of that and look at all the negatives that I could work with the players today," Weis continued. "As I said to everyone last night, it's a heck of a lot easier when the guys are feeling good about a win to tell them all the things they did wrong because they're in a psychological frame of mind where they're more open to constructive criticism than when if they had lost by 17 or 14, and now all of a sudden you're doing the same criticizing, but now everyone's in the tank."

Weis expects two guys to still be in the tank despite the win, kicker Carl Gioia and quarterback Brady Quinn.

"Nobody is a bigger critic of Brady (Quinn) than Brady," Weis said about his Heisman candidate quarterback. "He'll come in today, he'll be so far in the tank, I'll have to spend a whole day getting him out of the tank. I'll be dragging him out of there because his expectations for his play are so high."

Quinn certainly didn't play bad completing 23-of-38 passes for 246 yards and no interceptions. He rushed for a touchdown and completed several key passes to help his team to a win.

"He's 23-for-38, we drop about six balls," Weis stated. "We catch those balls, he's 29-for-38, no one is saying anything any more. But the facts are, that's not the way it was. There's a lot of plays in that game last night he'd like to have back."

Gioia's two missed field goals from 42 and 36 yards luckily didn't cost Notre Dame the game and maybe the National Championship. Weis immediately went to work on the senior's psyche.

"I started working on it in the locker room last night," he said. "I think the most important thing is when you can sit there, kick an extra point, kick field goals in practice, you know you can kick them in the game. You just got to be able to kick them under duress. That's just the way it is.

"We'll keep working on it," Weis continued. "I'm not throwing in the towel on anyone. I mean, it's the first game. You got jitters. That's not making excuses. The team's still counting on him making them and he knows the team's counting on him."

Weis was excited about his defense, disappointed in the offense and all the careless penalties, and thought special teams other than Gioia played well for the most part after reviewing the game.

The Irish defense didn't allow a third-down conversion (0-4) the second half while keeping the Yellow Jackets' offense under 100 total yards after halftime. The unit wasn't penalized all evening. Weis said that the communication was better and that the defense only made two mental errors, three if you count one on the coaches who didn't have the team on the field in time to defend a pass. Tech quarterback Reggie Ball's throw fell incomplete anyways.

Weis has pinpointed all along that communication and understanding the scheme was the defense's biggest problem in the past.

"I think we addressed it in the off-season," Weis said. "The first thing we wanted to make sure, we wanted to make sure the players knew what to do, so this way they could do it full speed. I think that showed up last night. I think that's going to be the continued philosophy, that we have to see if we can grow from this."

Georgia Tech had a chance to go up two scores to begin the second half, but the Irish defense forced them to punt. Quinn then engineered a second-straight 14-yard scoring drive to put the Irish up for good, thanks in part to the defense.

"I felt the rest of the game that, even though there were a few plays being made by their offense, I felt the defense started to control the game where I never felt like I had to go into a more aggressive mode offensively," Weis explained. "A lot of people have started to, well, what are we going to do now? I think because of how our defense was playing early in the third quarter, right on through the second half, allowed me to just keep on doing what we're doing and nickel-and-diming them."

One of the guys that has a better understanding of the scheme and what he is supposed to be doing is safety Chinedum Ndukwe. The senior's big-time hit on All-American receiver Calvin Johnson that jarred the ball incomplete was one of the game's biggest plays.

"I think he was running around as good as I've seen him run around," Weis said. "I'm not saying he was perfect, but I think the dropped weight really paid off for him last night.

"His stamina was good. He wasn't sucking wind. I thought he made some plays out there."

Another player that wasn't sucking wind was Travis Thomas. In his debut at linebacker, Thomas made four tackles including two for loss. He also played special teams and helped Notre Dame run the clock out by carrying the ball several times down the stretch.

Thomas' gas tank impressed everyone.

"He surprised our whole staff because the guy who I had monitoring him was (special teams coach) Brian (Polian), because he's playing on special teams, he's playing linebacker, then I'm throwing him in the game," Weis explained. "Every time he came off the field, he was checking on Travis. Remember, that's the first time in a while Travis has played this many plays. He's been backup to Darius (Walker) now. He hasn't played this type of volume of plays."

Walker, who gained 99 yards on 22 attempts including the decisive 13-yard scoring run in the third quarter, was one of the few offensive guys Weis wasn't disappointed in. The junior tailback also caught four passes for 18 yards.

"I thought Darius played outstanding, that was the guy on offense in the second half you knew you could count on, give the ball to 3, because that really was the difference maker as far as offense goes."

The Irish offense was flagged for nine penalties, mostly coming from an experienced offensive line that has four seniors and true freshman Sam Young at right tackle. It was the other guys, not Young who were getting called. Weis said he thought the rookie played pretty well.

Most of the penalties ended up being drive killers, setting up third-and-long attempts.

Weis also credited John Tenuta's Georgia Tech defense.

"As a matter of fact they played very well on defense, but they did what we thought they would do," he said. "We also had done a lot of study of our Ohio State game, realizing that's the latest piece of information they could have going back to the Fiesta Bowl, watching. Some of those things showed up in the game, too.

"I think we were fairly well-prepared. I just thought that our execution was just a little sloppy there."

For the second straight day Weis praised his punter Geoff Price who averaged 50.4 yards on five punts. He also singled out David Grimes (46-yard kickoff return) and George West (33-yard kickoff return), for giving a boost to a return-game that was lacking last season.

Weis mentioned that Irish would have to continue working on containing mobile quarterbacks. Ball led Georgia Tech on the ground with 55 yards on 11 attempts. The next dual-threat player Notre Dame will see is Michigan State's Drew Stanton in week four.

Weis also addressed his reasoning for going for it on 4th-and-1 from the Georgia Tech 47-yard line to seal the game late in the fourth quarter. Quinn's keeper over center for two yards iced the game.

Watching from upstairs, Weis' wife knew her husband was going to go for it during the timeout before the play. People she was watching with didn't agree.

"So here is my thought ok," Weis began. "Our defense has played great, played great the whole second half, ok. We're only up four because we missed a couple field goals. So if I punt the ball into the end zone, they get the ball on the 20-yard line with a minute to go in the game. Let's just say they hit (Johnson) on a crossing rout, he takes it to the house. Here the spirit of the defense who has played so good the whole game, ok, is broken because I didn't have the guts to go for it on fourth and a half a yard."

Also watching the game upstairs for the first time in two decades was defensive coordinator Rick Minter. Minter called the game from there and secondary coach Bill Lewis moved down to the field. Weis made the switch to benefit communication with the guys in the secondary.

"Being on that phone and listening to the communication, listening to how everything went, then just listening in the third quarter where we started to get a bead on what they were doing, I think it was a good start," Weis said of the switch.

On another note, Weis said that the Penn State pep rally, weather permitting, will be held inside Notre Dame Stadium, Friday night, so no one is turned away.

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